Getting to the heart of our impact
Given the speed of the revolving door for advisers at Trump’s White House you may have missed the President’s assertion (at the Gridiron Club dinner) that nobody does self-deprecating humour better than him. Now this may have been a stab at irony but I don’t think so given that his speech proceeded to lampoon almost everyone in his team with the glaring exception of himself.
Self-deprecating? Hardly. Yet I’m grateful for the leadership capability this vignette highlights – the importance of self-awareness and emotional intelligence (EQ). As we know, self-awareness is the foundation of EQ and as all the research tells us EQ makes the difference when it comes to the quality of the relationships we form, the level of engagement we create and the results these enable us to deliver.
Of course developing our emotional intelligence is a lifelong journey. Noticing and then managing our emotions well is no easy gig especially when they’re at the intense end of the spectrum as they can be when we’re confronted with some of the challenging situations and unreasonable behaviours that arise in the workplace.
With commitment and self-discipline we can really polish our practice. Reflection is invaluable – pausing in the moment to notice what’s arising for us emotionally, and why, may allow us to test proportionality and consider how we respond.
Regular reflective practice allows us to conduct our own post mortems and identify triggers and patterns.
Feedback is another powerful tool. It adds to the data we can gather for ourselves from self-examination. If we don’t ask for it or we’ve stopped asking, we’re missing out on a vital resource – short-changing ourselves and those on whom our emotions can impact adversely.
And this is the crux of the matter. As leaders our emotions have a disproportionate impact on those around us. We have a deep responsibility to ensure the impact is positive in that it drives right and engaged action.
To fulfil that responsibility we have to care about our impact, engaging our heart – with its qualities of love, kindness, caring, compassion, empathy, courage and wisdom – in every interaction and in ensuring we respond rather than react when our emotions threaten to take control.